The what ifs that circle around our head can cause us so much pain. The what if I had done that? Or what if I had said this? They are endless and they can ruin our mental state. After my dads death I was filled with what ifs which led to me feeling a huge amount of guilt and it just plummeted me even further into my depression. But what if he hadn’t of died? This was a what if that used to cause me the most pain. Imagining a life where my dad was still with me was torture. Imagining him being there through my high school and college years and other life events was heart breaking. It kicked in the realisation of the fact that he wasn’t there and he wasn’t going to be at any future life events either. But it was a what if that just wouldn’t go away.
It wasn’t until I started CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) where I was able to process his death and accept it. Accept that physically he wouldn’t be at any of my future life events but I could always have him there with me in my mind. So what if he hadn’t of died? This no longer causes me pain like it used it, instead it intrigues me. I often think about how my life woulda turned out if he hadn’t of died. Would I still be on the same path, a completely different path or would I have gone down a different path which eventually led to this path I am on now?
So what if? Well, I think I woulda gone down a different path that would have eventually come back onto the path I am on now (or one pretty similar).
My dad had a big influence on my love for horses, animals and the outdoors. Back when I was around 6 years old, I said I wanted to start horse riding lessons and a close friend of my dads had her own small yard not far from our home (just down the road from where my dad grew up) which is where it all started. He watched my lessons, saw me progress from the smaller and ‘easier’ riding ponies to the bigger and more challenging ones. He saw me fall off and get back on. He watched my competitions and saw me receive my rosettes. He was a huge fan and always supported me.
After his death I still carried on with my riding lessons and eventually moved away from home to study horse management and care. After that I began my career in the horse industry (however I am starting to move away from the idea of still wanting to pursue a career within the industry). I think if my dad was still alive, I would still have moved away for college to study horses, I would still have worked at the yards that I have but I think my passion for my work would have stuck around. I think he woulda fuelled my drive to thrive within the industry and work up the ladder. I also think I would have become more serious with my riding. Possibly attend more private lessons or lessons with professional riders/trainers and I’d go out to compete more.
My dad was an outdoor person. He loved nature and loved being outside which I think is where I get my love for the outdoors from. We used to always go on adventures together. Sometimes we put my bike in the back of his car (despite how much he absolutely adored his car, he would still happily put my bike on the back seats for when we went out) or sometimes we would just walk. We’d explore different places, explore the places he explored as a kid or still go on our regular walking routes. We’d take carrots to feed to any horses we passed, he would take his camera to take pictures, we’d have conversations and sometimes we’d just simply walk. I think if he was still alive we would’ve tried out different walks all over the country. I loved our adventures together. After his death I still went out for walks but they became a way of me releasing my grief. I always stuck my earphones in, played emotional songs, cried my eyes out and walked till I felt alright enough to return home.
Dad was quite the chef too and enjoyed healthy food. I think I would’ve picked up cooking from an earlier age than now (I’d say I have only recently started to cook properly) however I’m still unsure on when I would have stopped being a fussy eater (it took me up till the age of 22 for me to begin to try new foods). I also believe that I would’ve been more into my photography if he was still alive. As a kid I was always, always using his camera to take pictures of my rabbit, toys and anything else. I loved photography. During high school I went on to take photography as a lesson subject and I enjoyed it, but I think if my dad was still alive I would’ve bought my own professional camera and possibly had photography as a hobby.
But I think eventually my mental illnesses woulda still caught up to me. My anxiety has always been around so I honestly don’t think that would’ve been any different from what it is now. I think my struggles with body image would have still happened and my PTSD would have eventually knocked me down which would still be followed by depression. I don’t think it would have been as bad as what it actually has been, but still bad enough to make an impact resulting in me me wanting to move away from it all. I still believe that my friend A (who I met at college) would’ve messaged me about a job opportunity in Australia working on a stud yard and if my dad was still alive I most definitely would not have turned down the opportunity to work with horses overseas and I know for a fact that he would have always supported me and it all would have led to this day where I am sat in Australia working on a stud yard with horses. So I believe that even if my dad hadn’t of died, my path would have been different but it still would have led me to a point similar to where I am now.
In all honesty, to anyone in the early stages of grief, I probably wouldn’t recommend trying to think of this type of ‘what if’ (or any type of what if), but for me now, in a way, this is nice. I am very thankful for everything I have been through. Of course I wish that my dad was still here but there is nothing I can do about that and everything I have been through has led me to this very day and I am so happy with that. Reflecting on a life with my dad still in it is somewhat calming for me. It allows me to imagine a life with my dad and imagine a good life. A life where I wasn’t as self-destructive or troubled. A different yet similar kind of me.
Grief is something we’ll all go through one day and it’s something you can’t really prepare for. When you are going through grief the pain feels like it will be endless and you will probably hear the saying ‘Time is the best healer’ about a thousand times but in all honesty, it’s true. The grief will always be around, there will always be periods where you miss them and wish that they could be with you but the thought of them and the memories you have of them won’t be as painful to think/talk about. The grief will stay but the pain will go. Trust me.
Thank you for reading,
Sending so much love to you all,